HIGHLANDS RANCH — Entrenched in one of those maddening games in which their dominance wasn’t reflected with tangible results, overtime was creeping into the heads of the Fairview soccer players.
But thanks to Berkley Gamble’s cannon for a right foot, no extra session was needed Tuesday.
In the 77th minute, the University of Washington-bound defender bombed a free kick from about 45 yards out. It careened off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net, sending the Knights to a 1-0 win against Heritage in the Class 5A quarterfinals at Shea Stadium.
“That’s one of my favorite places to take a free kick,” Gamble said. “Since there was a slight breeze, I knew I could bend the ball. I was going to bend the ball far post and I knew it’d go near post, and that’s what happened.”
The 15th-seeded Knights (11-5-2) avenged a 1-0 regular-season loss to Heritage on March 14 and eliminated the No. 10 Eagles (12-6) in the quarterfinals for the second time in the past four seasons.
Gamble’s senior class reached the semifinals for the third time and never has been eliminated before the quarters. The Knights won it all in 2010 but were in the unfamiliar role of underdog this season.
“It’s really exciting for our team going forward because no one thought we could do this, and we’ve never had such a low seed for the tournament since I’ve been here,” Gamble said. “To make it to the semis is quite an accomplishment and we hope to keep going.”
Fairview entered fresh off an upset of No. 2 Fossil Ridge in the second round and the Knights carried over their sharp, inspired play. They were out-shooting Heritage 10-2 in the latter stages, but only saw goose eggs on the scoreboard before Gamble’s blast.
“I told them after the game that I seriously thought they were trying to give me a heart attack,” Fairview coach Jeremy Pinard said. “Obviously, we wanted to cash one of those earlier.”
Knights keeper Rachel DeCurnou had a good view of her team’s dominance. She made both of her saves in the first half and patiently waited for one of Fairview’s chances to translate to the scoreboard.
“We just kept shooting and it’d go right to the keeper or wide, so it was a little bit frustrating,” DeCurnou said. “It was really intense after Berkley kicked that one in. We had to remain alert on defense and make sure we were playing smart. I was just really amped up after she scored.”
Gamble nearly scored in the 65th minute, but Heritage goalie Bethany Stuhlman tipped it over the net. Earlier in the second half, senior Daphnee Morency narrowly missed a quality chance wide right.
The Knights kept churning until their Gamble paid off. Her eighth goal of the season came with 3:21 showing on the clock.
“She’s been unbelievable with that,” Pinard said. “I think this is the most we’ve seen us score on set pieces in a long while as coaches.”
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Fairview 1, Heritage 0
At Shea Stadium
Fairview (11-5-2) 0 1 — 1
Heritage (12-6) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Fairivew: Gamble, 77th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: DeCurnou (80-0-2); Heritage: Stuhlman (80-1-10).